Bagman is an imaginary character dreamt up by the trio of Europe’s most experienced and resourceful improvisers – British pianist Pat Thomas (who played with Derek Bailey, Lol Coxhill and John Butcher, among many others), who adds electronics to his arsenal, with Swedish sax player Sture Ericson (of The Electrics) and drummer Raymond Strid (who also played in The Electrics, Gush and Barry Guy New Orchestra and first collaborated with Thomas in a trio with double bass player Clayton Thomas, «Wazifa», psi, 2010). Like the imaginary Bagman, this trio roams around in the figurative soundscape and collects sonic debris. The trio was recorded live at London’s Cafe OTO in September 2019, as part of Thomas’ curated series of performances Jadid (جديد, new in Arabic), featuring groups that have never played together or very rarely play together.
This trio began working together in 2018 and created a rich spectrum of dynamic, disruptive music in their improvisational sessions. As expected from such heavyweight improvisers, extended techniques inform this trio’s sound and dynamics. The piano is played on the inside and outside. The electronics, saxophones, drums and junk objects shape a frenetic musical environment or crisscross each other in a restless, noisy, and futile search for fleeting melodies.
«Bagman Live at Cafe Oto» offers four eccentric and highly inventive improvisations, constantly and instantly shape-shifting from abstract, quiet musings to powerful and manic free jazz onslaughts, but always keep its focused and deeply attentive dynamics. This trio embrace risk-taking and enjoys the surprise dimension in their dynamics, and never settles on familiar routes. It employs the experiences of Ericson, Thomas and Strid not as remembrances but as preparation for not being prepared. The third piece «Catbug» introduces some Monk-ish elements and the trio spins these jazzy cyclical ideas into a wild and dense interplay, before stressing its lyrical side. The last piece «Bugcat» suggests a more sparse, and sometimes even playful, post-bop interplay that highlights the poetic languages of Ericson, Thomas and Strid, alone and as a collective.
Sture Ericson (ts, ss), Pat Thomas (p, elec), Raymond Strid (dr)